The secret to long term health weight

Top Secret weight loss

The (not so secret) key to losing weight in a good way that lasts

Here it is.. the secret is.. that there is no secret. It’s just that the answer doesn’t get a lot of attention. It is too simple. Not sexy or novel. And that makes it seem believable.  And a lot of people want to lose weight quickly, which is completely understandable as it limits the time spent saying no to food (which usually means saying no to socialising with friends). So it makes sense that  people are drawn to those diets promising fast weight loss. 

But the truth is that weight loss (and fat loss in particular) takes time. The body  can’t physically break down 2-3 kg of fat in a week. It just doesn’t work like that.  When you lose weight at that rate, most of it will be water and muscle (and maybe a little bit of fat).  In fact you are forcing your body to conserve energy, not burn it. 

In fact, way too often in the clinic, we see people who have been trying to lose weight for years and gradually cut more and more out of their diet and by the time they see us, there is only a very limited range of foods left.  This leaves them with very little confidence in their eating habits and hope that they will ever lose weight. 

To give you an example of what can happen when you eat too little, when a group of fit, young men lost weight by following a diet that provided 50% of their calorie needs for three weeks, they began burning 250 fewer calories per day (Muller M 2015). This regimen also resulted in greater muscle loss than fat loss, which is beneficial because muscle consumes more energy than fat!

Furthermore, losing weight tends to activate a basic (and protective) response in the body – it makes us hungry. This hunger might be modest or overt (depending on your sensitivity to hunger and fullness cues).  This increase in appetite is designed to safeguard us and help us regain our original weight and muscular mass. (Dulloo A, 2018).


What is the solution?

To lose weight successfully (and for it to be mostly fat loss) the body should have a small calorie deficit, which is about 500Kcal/2000kJ less than what it needs each day. This is the most direct and effective way to lose weight.  You can get this sort of change from a few really small and simple steps such as: changing from full cream to light milk and swapping to extra lean meat and cutting out those 1-2 biscuits or handful of crips and reducing your latte from a grande to a tall (or whatever the smallest cup is called at your local barista).  It doesn’t need to be drastic or require you to exclude whole food groups. 

Most people agree that losing weight slowly is better for you in the long run, and the research backs this up (Paisey R B 2002). Apart from the body needing time to break down fat, it may be better to lose weight more slowly because it gives you time to make the new ways of eating a part of your everyday life, making them more likely to stick.

Which food is the best for losing weight in a healthy way?

As long as you want to lose weight and keep it off, it’s anything you can do for the rest of your life. Additionally, the food you choose to eat should give your body all the nutrients it needs. It can mean the difference between surviving and thriving. So, if you decide to cut out whole food groups, you might want to think about how you will get the nutrients that those groups provide. For instance, how will you get enough fibre, B vitamins, glucose, proteins, and iron if you don’t eat carbs? What can you eat instead of dairy to get the calcium, protein, Vitamin A, Zinc, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, and sodium you need? The easy answer is – you can’t. 

Instead, we tell clients who want to stay healthy and at a healthy weight to follow the healthiest diet there is, which is open to all Australians for free. This bestselling diet book is called “The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.”  It can be accessed by anyone at for free. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) scientists who developed the guide read over 55,000 scientific journal articles to find the best eating pattern that would help the health and well-being of most Australians. 

The guide is simple to follow and can help you make a fun and adaptable eating plan that you can use at home or when you go out to eat. There are some calculators on the Eat for Health website that can help you figure out how much of each food group you need to meet your nutrient needs as well as how much energy you need generally. Once you know how much energy you need, take away 500kcal/2000kj to help you lose weight slowly. The website’s tool will then figure out how much of each food group you can eat to meet your needs.

Eating a little less than you need, can sometimes leave you feeling a little hungrier than usual. To help with this, try to focus on boosting the following nutrients and foods because they help you feel fuller and more energetic for longer:

High fibre: 
Most foods that are high in fibre are lower in calories and make you feel fuller for longer. Aim for about 10g of fibre with each meal. This will give you 30g a day, which is a great start for gut health as well. If you aren’t already eating a lot of fibre, you could try slowly add more over a few weeks so that your body has time to hte change and you don’t get too bloated.

To get this much fibre, try to eat whole grains at every meal and fruits and veggies at least twice or three times a day. Foods like wholemeal and seeded breads, high-fibre cereals, beans and lentils, high-fibre pasta, quinoa, barley, oats, seeds, and nuts are all wholegrains.

Eating foods high in protein help slow down digestion, which keeps your blood sugar levels steady and makes you feel full for longer.

You should aim for about 20-30 gram of protein at each meal. This amount is about your can digest at any one meal so that it can make muscles hormones, enzymes, and other helpful chemicals and substances. People who don’t get enough protein in their meals or throughout the day may feel tired and hungry again in just a few hours.

Like protein and whole grains, fat is digested slowly by the body. This means that fat can be a good part of a meal if it is used in the right way. Since fat has a lot of energy, you only need a small amount to feel full.

Not a food but a good time is to try to drink water with your meals and snacks as it can slow down digestion and helps your body absorb more water.

So remember, the next time you see a diet promising fast weight, it is probably because they have something to sell and they need to get your attention. There is no quick fix to weight loss. It is a slow and steady kind of race (that isn’t a race) which starts and ends with balanced eating patterns that include a wide range of nutritious foods alongside regular and enjoyable movement (aka exercise).